A Syrian Love Story on Monday was awarded the main prize at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in the Czech Republic. The film, directed by British filmmaker Sean McAllister, tells the story of a family which flees the regime of Bashar Assad. Once in Paris, they look for a new home but the marriage between the two main protagonists eventually falls apart.
British documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister has described his film as a universal story about an ordinary family. It is the story of two partners and their children trying to begin again in France, of “two revolutionaries who become refugees”. As such, the documentary fits perfectly within the festival’s overall theme this year which was ‘Looking for Home’. One World festival director Hana Kulhánková spoke to Czech Radio about the film:
“The jury was very impressed with A Syrian Love Story not just because of the story, which was very powerful, but also the experimental way it was filmed. From the start, the director Sean MacAllister is a part of the story and at first it seems like he is just filming his friends. Then he himself is arrested and the family is forced to flee Syria.”
The film captures what it means to escape one’s homeland and the difficulties of adapting to a new life. One World’s Hana Kulhánková again:
“This film shows exactly what people have to do when they are trapped in a non-democratic country and have to escape to a democratic one, in this case to France… It is also a story… about a couple where both would like to be very active and she refuses to take only the role of mother taking care of her family and children. She is drawn by the idea of returning home and doing what she can there to help.”
Asked about the themes of home and migration, particularly resonant these days, Ms Kulhánková said organisers were thrilled audiences had been attentive to the discourse and eager for real discussion.
“We were really pleased by how many people came to this year’s festival and we were very happy that there was excellent discussion about films focusing on migration and home… People weren’t there to argue but to learn about what is going on. It’s the opposite of what you see in some online chat rooms and internet discussions.”
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